Imagine you're a professional politician who's been striving for decades to get to the top of the heap. And then imagine that the Senate is the top of the heap. Say… nominal Democrat– he's a Blue Dog– Joe Donnelly, an unlikely freshman senator from Indiana, who should never have gotten into the Senate in the first place. You're up for reelection in 2018 in a state that just voted for Trump 1,556,220 (57.2%) to 1,031,953 (37.9%). Hillary only won 4 counties of the state's 92. This year's far more popular and better known Democratic Senate candidate, Evan Bayh, also lost– 1,423,001 (52.1%) to 1,157,799 (42.4%). He won twice as many counties… 8, but he was running against a virtually unknown generic Republican– and he had to spent a whopping $11,083,281 against the Republican's $8,897,232 to win those 8 counties. (The DSCC and its allies spent another $16.3 million on the race, far more than they're going to spend on you.) There was a gubernatorial race too– and the Republican won that too. The state legislature doesn't look good either. The Republicans control everything. Of the 25 members of the state Senate, just 6 are Democrats. In the state House there are 70 Republicans and 30 Democrats.
When Donnelly started in politics in the late 80s, Democrats still won offices. Donnelly served on the Indiana State Election Board in 1988 and '89 and in 1997 was elected to the Marian High School Board. He lost a race for Attorney General and a race for a state Senate seat. Then in 2004 he ran against a crackpot extremist, congressional incumbent, Chris Chocola. He lost but two years later there was a national anti-Bush tsunami that swept Donnelly into office. He was re-elected in 2008 and, with a tiny margin against Jackie Walorski, in 2010. He knew he was dead meat in 2012 so he threw a hail Mary pass, giving up his House seat and running for the open Senate seat against a lunatic fringe teabagger, Richard Mourdock, who wound up saying insane things– like when a woman gets pregnant from rape it's “something that God intended”– during the campaign. Donnelly didn't really win as much as Mourdock lost.
Donnelly is anti-Choice, has an anti-LGBT voting record and has an “F” score from ProgressivePunch. His 61.73 lifetime crucial vote score is the 3rd worst of any Senate Dem. Only Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp vote with the Republicans more than Donnelly, although not much more.
So now, ask yourself if Donnelly– and others in similar situations (conservative Democrats in red states up for reelection in 2018)– will be Trump collaborators or decide to stand up for their constituents instead. Heidi Heitkamp has the worst voting record of any Democrat in the Senate. Worse than Donnelly's and worse than Joe Manchin's. She told The Hill a couple days ago that she wants to work with Trump on a fictitious construct called “clean coal… My priority is standing up for North Dakota, not party politics. The reason I’m in the U.S. Senate is to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done.” Manchin also backs the GOP “clean coal” nonsense– and so do two other Democrats from states that went for Trump: Bob Casey (PA) and, less predicately– but not totally unpredictably– Sherrod Brown (OH).
These are the conservative Senate Democrats with who are up for reelection in 2018… along with the percentage of votes Trump got in their state:
• Jon Tester (MT)- 56.5%
• Tom Carper (DE)- 41.9%
• Tim Kaine (VA)- 45.0%
• Angus King (I-ME)- 45.2%
• Claire McCaskill (MO)- 57.1%
• Joe Donnelly (IN)- 57.2%
• Joe Manchin (WV)- 68.7%
• Heidi Heitkamp (ND)- 64.1%
So, for starters, it looks like “clean coal” is bound to be reinvented.
A spokesman for Manchin said his top priorities next year include working with Trump and Republicans to pass the Miners protection Act, roll back “harmful regulations” on coal, renegotiate trade policies and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
Trump won West Virginia with nearly 69 percent of the vote.
Tester and two other Democrats up for reelection in 2018 in states won by Trump, Bob Casey (Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio.), are cosponsors of the clean coal bill.
That bill had little chance of moving while Reid was in charge. He once declared with typical bluntness “it doesn’t exist… there is no such thing as clean-coal technology.”
Democrats in tough races have been quick to call for putting the bad blood of the election behind them and focus on delivering results for constituents.
“Working across the aisle with her Republican colleagues to forge compromise and advance bipartisan ideas is exactly what Claire’s done since she joined the Senate– regardless of which party holds the White House or who’s in charge of Congress– and it’s exactly what she’ll keep doing,” said John LaBombard, a spokesman for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who is expected to run for re-election in a state that Trump won with 57 percent of the vote.
Tax reform is one area where Republicans could see cooperation from Democrats.
Jim Kessler, a former aide to Schumer who now serves as senior vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, says “it’s possible” that Senate Democrats help Republicans pass a tax reform package.
…Another issue with new momentum is authorization to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration shut down.
Ten Democrats voted last year to approve the Keystone pipeline. Six of them are running for re-election in states that Trump won: McCaskill, Manchin, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Tester and Casey.
Had some of Schumer's dismally failed recruits won on November 8th– like Patrick Murphy (FL), Patty Judge (IA), Ted Strickland (OH), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Evan Bayh (IN), Jason Kander (MO), etc, Trump would have had even more Democratic allies to play with. Tuesday the Senate rejected a cloture motion to shut down a Democratic filibuster on a Big Oil special interest bill. Perhaps in a sign of things to come, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp, easily the two worst Democrats in the Senate, crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis